Posted by Lutz Ziob
General Manager, Microsoft Learning
Given the current state of our economy, securing and retaining family-wage jobs is of upmost importance to most Americans. Today, I was fortunate to represent Microsoft at aSenate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing that focused on the critically important issue of the employment needs of our returning veterans.
As the General Manager of Microsoft Learning, I know firsthand the importance of providing access to the kinds of learning tools that all workers will need to compete and prosper in our fast-changing information economy. In the 21st century, occupations and employment are evolving faster than ever before, largely driven by the rapid pace of technology, innovation and change. Information technology has become so pervasive in the world of work in the U.S. that almost every job requires some level of IT understanding and skills.
And of course, this group of Americans, our nation’s returning military heroes, is especially deserving of our help in finding new civilian careers. In my testimony I talked about the need for a new partnership approach, with government, education and industry working closely together to ensure that our veterans and their families receive access to the skills training and educational resources they need to transition smoothly and successfully into sustainable, family-wage civilian work.
For instance, we know that the most widely accepted proof for demonstrating the quality of employees’ technology skills are industry certifications, especially for job candidates without relevant work experience. And we are in fact witnessing a growing trend by the Defense Department and other government agencies to accept industry credentials for validating professional skills and capabilities in addition to a formal degree and proven work experience — certainly a very positive development.
For the new skills and workforce paradigm to be successful, veterans need better access to the most current technology instruction, combined with hands-on experience and real-world advice in the form of mentoring, internships and career guidance provided by private teaching organizations.
At Microsoft, we believe that building effective bridges for our returning service members into civilian employment is the right thing to do for our veterans. Equipping veterans with the latest IT skills is also good for the economy, by enabling small and large businesses to take advantage of this untapped talent pool to enhance their global competitiveness. The government stands to gain, too, by reducing the number of veterans collecting unemployment and helping them transition into family wage jobs.